Pepsi-Cola doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to releasing limited-edition flavors, especially for the holidays. Does anyone remember the Pepsi Spice flavor? Last year they had a hit on their hands with Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist. The product’s success was due, in part, to marketing campaigns that started last fall. Even if you don’t remember the soda, you probably remember seeing the “holiday hawk” or hearing the commercials on the radio. Last year’s version of Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist was excellent. It tasted like Sierra Mist, but also had the tartness of cranberry flavoring added in.
This year Pepsi has re-released Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist, and also released a diet version of the popular soda. I decided to try both versions, and I have to say that neither one was that spectacular.
First up was the full sugar version of Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist. Having tried it last year, and remembering the slightly sweet and tart flavor, I was surprised to find it lacking this year. Since I’ve been drinking cranberry juice regularly for the last few months, I thought it was just me. Then I asked a few others for their opinions, and we all found it to be different from last year’s version. This year the cranberry flavor seems to be lacking. The full sugar version tasted very similar to regular Sierra Mist, but with a hint of something else in the background. It didn’t taste like real cranberry, nor did it taste like artificial cranberry flavor. It was more like a tart flavor tossed it at the last second.
I drink a lot of diet soda, and I’ve never been a fan of diet Sierra Mist. There’s usually a very strong aftertaste that seems to get worse with every swallow. After trying the Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist and being very disappointed, I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of trying the diet version of it. Despite that, I have to say that the diet version improves on the full sugar version. That little hint of tartness does an excellent job of covering up the awful aftertaste, and there seems to be just a little more bite in the diet version. Actually, the diet version tastes more like the full sugar version from last year. Its very crisp and clean, with just a hint of artificial cranberry flavor in the background.
Of the two Cranberry Splash versions of Sierra Mist out this year, my winner is the diet version. The cranberry flavoring adds a nice bite of tartness to the usual flavor, without overpowering the lemon lime taste.
Each version is available in bottles, cans, and 2-liters, but they are only available for a short period of time. After the holidays, the Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist will disappear once again, taking the holiday hawk along with it.